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I don’t identify as LGBTQ but would like to raise my children in a LGBTQ safe environment especially in a synagogue. Are there any 100% Orthodox shuls that are LGBTQ friendly? I’m not sure how this would translate for Transgender people but I don’t want to compromise on Jewish values for me and for my children. I’m curious if there are any shuls that support LGBTQ in a fully halachik way.

Thank you for reaching out. It is so wonderful to hear that you are making every effort to raise your children in an LGBTQ safe and inclusive environment. Philadelphia is a particularly interesting and challenging community regarding so many levels of acceptance and inclusion, not least of which is LGBTQ inclusion. In Philadelphia there are practicing Orthodox Jews raising Halachically observant children on the LGBTQ spectrum who would recommend the Center City community as a safe and inclusive space. In particular, there are a few shuls to recommend — one is Sephardic, one is Modern Orthodox, and the Lubavitch community are all wonderful and welcoming and inclusive. Another great resource supporting LGBTQ Jews and their families in the Orthodox community is JQY (Jewish Queer Youth) at http://www.jqyouth.org.

You asked about transgender individuals specifically. ESHEL is a national organization and a great resource for Orthodox LGBTQ folks and their families. They are currently doing work that studies the inherent issues both during and after transitioning with compassion and use of texts utilizing an appropriate approach that is inclusive and validating with Halachic framing. Visit their website at http://www.eshelonline.org.

All references given here operate fully within the parameters of Halacha. That means that gay men receive Aliyot, can doven, etc. Each of the Rabbis involved in these congregations have indicated that individuals would in no way be embarrassed or singled out in any way. This too is most strictly reflective of Halachic standards. For more information on the shuls in Philadelphia or for information on shuls and resources in other areas in the country, please contact shulisrosr@aol.com.

Best wishes to you and your family.

~Ally

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